Travel news: Space balloons, floating hotels and supersonic jets

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(CNN) — This week in travel we look at innovative new transport concepts, the reopening of Thailand’s most famous beach and flight attendants talk about the airport chaos gripping Europe and America.

Blue sky thinking

Someone is warning Fresh Prince and DJ Jazzy Jeff: If NASA has its way, booms may soon no longer shake space.

The agency is working on Quiet SuperSonic Technology to reduce the explosion-like bang traditionally produced when aircraft break the sound barrier, meaning craft such as its X-59 supersonic jet will be able to fly over land – something that is banned in according to the regulations due to noise nuisance.
Other ambitious projects in the works include Spaceship Neptune, “the world’s first carbon-neutral spacecraft,” according to its creators Space Perspective. They plan to start taking passengers on flights to the edge of space in 2024, floating in the air in a pressure ball dangling from a giant, high-tech helium balloon. Take a look here.

This crazy travel summer

So first the good news. New Zealand, Samoa and Brunei have all reopened their borders, and the Chinese gambling hub of Macao has eased its Covid restrictions. Malaysia and the Caribbean island of Martinique have also lifted all their Covid-related travel restrictions.
But as the summer of travel chaos continues in Europe and the States, London Heathrow and Amsterdam Schiphol have announced more restrictions on air traffic and Covid risk levels have risen in a number of destinations, including Romania and Moldova.

Focus on Asia

Cannabis cafes are popping up all over Bangkok after the plant was decriminalized in Thailand in June. The crowds are pouring in, but not everyone is happy with the new businesses.
Also a popular spot among backpackers, Thailand’s Maya Bay was made famous by Leonardo DiCaprio’s 2000 film “The Beach.” Visitors inadvertently damaged the bay’s coral reef, and it was closed for four years for a massive rehabilitation project. Now it’s open again for beach lovers.

Keeping cool in Abu Dhabi

Countries around the world have been baking in extreme summer temperatures, but some cities are more successful in dealing with heat than others. Temperatures in Abu Dhabi can soar to more than 120 F (over 50 C), and the city still makes use of an ancient Arab architectural cooling technique – with a modern twist.
And in the emirate’s Jubail Mangrove Park, a forest of the resistant plants thrives in the intensely salty water of the world’s warmest ocean. It is both a serene wildlife habitat and an offer of hope in an era of climate crisis.
And while Abu Dhabi may be known for its scorching temperatures, last year it was the first destination in the Middle East and Asia to be declared an official “Bike City” by the Union Cycliste Internationale, sport cycling’s governing body. Huge investment has been made in an exciting network of cycling circuits – although the best time to ride is before sunrise or after sunset.

Italian dream house

A couple from Maryland bought an abandoned Italian house for one euro and turned it into their European dream home – complete with an elevator. Here’s how they did it.

In case you missed it

One passenger was fined $1,874 for two undeclared McMuffins and a ham croissant.

Imagine being a 1980s teenager on holiday in London wearing an outfit, fly, being asked to be an extra in your favorite pop star’s music video.

Fake it till you make it

If you want a sun-kissed glow all year round (and without the skin damage that comes with sunbathing), then you need a good self-tanner. Our partners at CNN Underscored, a guide to product reviews and recommendations owned by CNN, have rounded up 15 of the best self-tanners on the market, according to experts.

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